TRINIDAD and Tobago’s population of people with chronic illnesses totals some 80,000 people with the potential to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
This figure was disclosed yesterday by Head of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, Dr Avery Hinds, as the Government looks to launch a public programme that will target the vulnerable including the elderly and those with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
At yesterday’s Health Ministry’s virtual news conference, Hinds said the Ministry is already actively seeking lists of chronic disease out-patients at the country’s clinics and those in the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP).
These would include people with heart disease and diabetes, who are considered more vulnerable to Covid-19.
T&T expects to receive its first tranche of AstraZeneca vaccines via the COVAX facility by the end of this month and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has announced that a further 426,000 doses were expected through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).
Hinds said the authorities will look at reaching out through available, official channels, possibly through the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) to get information about the vaccine to those people so that they feel better-prepared to receive it.
Deyalsingh had said some 50,000 vaccines from the first batch would be dispensed among the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and more frontline workers. Vaccines would be administered to elderly persons with permission from their families.
Hinds said feedback on the issue of vaccination has not been negative and even informal conversations among citizens are showing that they are curious about and have a certain amount of confidence in the product.
He said much of this may be based on the information reaching people, from those who have received the vaccine, that the side effects were routine, mild at most and manageable.
He said it was also being shown that people who had received the vaccine had then become infected with Covid-19 became less sick.
As well, people were seeing that the virus itself was much more likely to adversely affect them.
“We have not really gotten the feedback that people are unwilling,” Hinds said.
He said studies were showing “massive reductions” in new infections and deaths on the global scale and that countries which were previously driving the pandemic with high daily numbers, were slowing down.
Hinds said a new thrust towards global vaccination was paying dividends and was likely encouraging people who may have had trepidation about taking the vaccine.
In his epidemiological update, Hinds noted that some trends have remained in place, where males in the working population between ages 25-49 still form the majority of infections at 53 per cent of the total active cases.
T&T has maintained a rolling seven day average of around five cases per day and continues to decline since an outbreak in the middle of August last year.
Hinds continues to warn, however, that the virus remains in circulation and that asymptomatic carriers still pose the risk of infection, hence the need to keep up with public health regulations.